On the evening of March 1, 1932, 20 month-old Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh was abducted from the family’s New Jersey home, prompting a massive search of the area.
On May 12, 1932, the little boy’s body was discovered just a short distance from the Lindbergh home. The postmortem examination determined the young boy had died as the results of a skull fracture.
For the next two years, detectives worked diligently to identify the killer, finally arresting and charging Bruno Richard Hauptmann with the crime. According to investigators, Hauptmann was in possession of “marked” currency used to pay the ransom demand and his handwriting was deemed to be “very similar” to that of the ransom note.
Throughout his trial and until his very last words while strapped in the electric chair, Hauptmann boldly declared his innocence.
Was Hauptmann innocent? Or could he have been just a minute player in a much larger conspiracy?
Robert Zorn, author of the newly released book Cemetery John: The Undiscovered Mastermind of the Lindbergh Kidnapping says that’s exactly the case.
According to Zorn, his father Eugene was only 15 years-old when he overhead Bronx deli owner John Knoll discussing a plot to kidnap the Lindbergh baby with his brother and another man he addressed as “Bruno.”
Eugene Zorn simply forgot about that day until he read a magazine article in 1963 about “the crime of the century,” and realized just exactly what he had overheard on that day many, many years ago.
Although he tried to let the elder Lindbergh know of this via written letter, the man never responded before his passing two years later.
After he became suspicious of his former neighbor, Eugene Zorn was haunted by what he believed was a personal failure in helping to obtain justice and often shared his story with his son who now, in turn, has spent the last three years researching and interviewing for this book he says tells the whole story.
Crazy about historical true crime, I don’t believe there is a book out there on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping that I haven’t read. Some of them I’ve found to be factual and interesting while others were filled with whacked-out theories of suspects seemingly pulled out of the blue. Cemetery John, thankfully, falls into the former category.
Building on the allegations made by his father coupled with his own intense research, numerous interviews, and inspection of the written records, Zorn makes a clear, concise argument for John Knoll’s conspiracy to kidnap the Lindbergh child for nothing more than the “one-upping” a man of whom he was extremely jealous.
Historical true crime is a precious segment of this genre, especially those which so vividly recount the crimes which are slowly being forgotten.
Cemetery John by Robert Zorn isn’t only a book I strongly recommend, especially for history buffs such as myself, but one that earns a permanent place on my bookshelf – which regular readers know this means I didn’t just like it, I loved it.
Visit Robert Zorn’s site at www.cemeteryjohn.com for more information about him and the endeavors of writing this book.
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